Career advice from powerful women

What every intern should know

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This week, our winning interns – the talented troupe of future editors in charge of ELLE’s October issue – are in the office.

It’s got us thinking - aside from talent - what makes a person successful in their chosen career?

We attended the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit for an inspirational day listening to exceptional women from all over the world discuss their careers and asked them for their top tips for people starting out.

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Leigh Gallagher - assistant managing editor at Fortune magazine and co-chair of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

‘Don't be afraid and always assert yourself. You mustn’t expect someone to point to you and say, ‘We would like to give you a pay rise and a promotion.’ You need to raise your hand and say, ‘Look at me.’ It’s not everyone’s instinct to do that but you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don't. I doubted myself in my 20s and was nervous about pitching stories. I was raised to be very reserved and polite but I’ve learnt that you can be forceful and stand up for yourself without being brash.’

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Nina Easton - Washington columnist and senior editor for Fortune magazine and co-chair of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

‘Be fluid and flexible and follow your passion. Find out what you really want to do and do it with gusto. People tend to want to plan their careers right down to a T but it doesn't work like that, particularly in this economy. You don't know when or where opportunities are going to arise, so you have to be accommodating to change. Take Sheryl Sandberg’s advice and ‘lean in’ to your career. Read everything: newspapers, blogs, history books. Get outside the world you work in. I have been a journalist since I graduated and even when I started out I was always writing in a freelance capacity for bigger publications. I was always trying to get my name out and make a bigger mark, extend myself beyond what was expected of me.’

Catherine Mayer - Europe Editor of TIME magazine.

‘My mantra is: always accept a dare. Jump at every opportunity, don't just stay within your comfort zone. Stretch yourself. If something frightens you it’s probably a really good idea to do it. Don't take soft options if you want to do interesting things. You also need to be tough. If you don't let people see that things upset you, you will find they don't upset you nearly as much. Learning to appear serene even when you’re not is hugely important.’

Jo Malone – founder of fragrance brands Jo Malone and JO LOVES

‘Sometimes you can’t believe what the world tells you. You have to make things happen for yourself. I’m dyslexic, I can’t swim, I can’t drive, I left school at fourteen with no qualifications and I taught myself how to make cosmetics from a book called Harry’s Cosmetology. That’s where the dream started. I always remember Evelyn Lauder saying to me many years later, ‘Remember, you make lemonade from lemons,’ and it stuck with me.’

Read the winning interns' blog

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